The Daily Grind: Do you usually pick low-pop or high-pop servers in MMOs?

    
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The other day, MOP’s Carlo posted a pic of Black Desert’s server selection screen, showing a ton of servers flagged “crowded” even at a time in the day when you’d expect the servers to be a bit dead. I kinda miss the days when most MMOs would display that kind of info. Personally, I used to never care whether my server had a lot of people on it; I don’t think that it made much difference back in the day.

But nowadays? I want to be on the highest population server that I can be that still actually lets me log in without sitting in a queue. I’ve gone through enough server merges and dead servers and forced transfers and lost names and lost guilds that I’d rather just pick the big one right off and skip the future nonsense.

And yet, every time someone in Ultima Online suggests closing down the tiny servers and merging their populations into the lively shards, people raise hell. They picked those low-pop servers on purpose and they really don’t want to be with the bulk of players. So they stay.

Do you usually pick low-pop or high-pop servers in MMOs? What’s your rationale?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

I don’t generally pick by population. If I like the name of the server, and it is marked PvE, that’s generally where I go. But after having been on dead servers a few times, I tend to make sure it’s at least middling population wise, unless I really don’t want people around, but if I’m playing to avoid the people, I’m generally not playing it. High pop servers are generally a pain in the arse to login to, so I avoid those if possible. I don’t want to spend my time on ‘logging in’/Queue screens.

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Armsman

On any MMO where I have a choice of server, it’s usually the following criteria for me:

– The server all the rest of my real life friends are playing on.

– The server recommended for my country/region by the company running the game.

– The server that’s PVE only.

Plus in my experience server population fluctuates over the life of a game, so yeah in the end, if you’re in at the start of an MMO it’s going to be a high population server no matter what server you pick, and it will most likely only go down in population from there. And I usually like to pick MMOs that I enjoy playing and that have content you can complete solo, so overall server population is usually a non-issue for me.

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Kevin Smith

Depends on the game for me. If it is a game I don’t plan on trying to group up much because I just want to play mostly solo then I will pick a server that is low pop as it is easier to do things without competing with others for kills, etc… If I plan to play mostly in groups then it just makes common sense to pick the server that has more players.

Using BDO as an example though is bad because about 75% of those high pop servers are people AFK life skilling most of the time. So in reality those high pop servers are usually low pop for people actually playing the game.

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Hikari Kenzaki

I’m amused that a shot of BDO caused this thought process since BDO doesn’t have a server system like what you’re talking about. You can move from channel to channel at will, except for newbie channels.
I try to stay away from games that still use this archaic type of system if I can.
Or go to whatever is the official/unofficial RP server if I must.

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William_Hououin

I tend to go low to medium, well actually, I tend to play smaller mmos, I find it easier to get to know the people you’re playing with.

I also feel everyone are making much more of an impact on the game when there’s fewer players

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Rndomuser

Always a high pop server. I play MMORPGs to enjoy the “massively multiplayer” part, to see people running around and doing their things, to socialize with them outside of combat (the genuine socialization, not “use someone to get some items from dungeon or to level faster or to craft you something for free or for cheap”). Low population servers just feel like I am playing a single-player game during late night, and that may be ok for some people but that’s not why I play MMORPGs.

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The Commodore Z Show

Long time reader first time poster. Do other people who read MassivelyOP actually like MMOs? There always seems to me more posts about not wanting to play games with people, and a dislike for the Multiplayer aspects of MMORPGs.

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Kickstarter Donor
NeoWolf

Well It seems it’s that time of year again for the old MMORPG accronym breakdown. I really should put this to music lol :)

Massively – meaning LARGE/EXPANSIVE
Multi-player – LITERALLY means more than one person playing the game at the same time, whether they be grouped or not. It is NOT a specific reference to group play.
Online – Self explanatory
Role – playing something other than what you are
Playing -Interactive entertainment
Game – Fun/Entertainment

Long and short of it being, is that MMORPGs are entirely valid whether played alone or in a group, they are neither one thing nor the other they cater to ALL playstyles..
If someone plays an MMO and avoids grouping they are not doing it wrong, they are simply playing it the way they want to play it and that is okay and by design, because that is how MMOs are designed.
Look at MMO design, 99% of all content is what they call Progression content. i.e the content you use to level from minimum level to level cap and it is ALWAYS entirely soloable. So you could argue MMOs are way more solo-friendly than group-friendly.. BUT MMORPGs are designed to cater to many play styles, solo, grouped, PvE, PVP, RP’ers non-RP’ers etc..etc.. yet people always want to Pidgeon hole the genre by what playstyle they individually like.

If you like grouping awesome, they have content and options for you, but understand that not everyone likes what you like and that’s okay, the genre takes that in mind and provides for everyone. ;)

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Bruno Brito

Yes. We do.

What doesn’t help is that the scene is filled with crap games and crappier companies.

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Rndomuser

There always seems to me more posts about not wanting to play games with people, and a dislike for the Multiplayer aspects of MMORPGs.

That’s not true. Some people here are pretty antisocial but some are not and do enjoy MMORPGs for multiplayer part. And in any case all of them can provide benefit for each other as long as they pay for playing so it doesn’t really matter how they like to play.

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Bryan Correll

We like MMOs. But we also like to complain.

Well, I do at least.

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Kickstarter Donor
Phubarrh

I’m in it for the drama.

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Kickstarter Donor
NeoWolf

I guess I go for low pop servers typically, and not because I’m predominantly a soloer or want to avoid other players but mostly because it means a) less chance of any auction houses being ruined already and b) less chance of queues when trying to log in.

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Bruno Brito

Medium to high.

If there are none, i keep wishing for a merge.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

In the few online games I still play, it’s not really relevant. STO is a “single server” system, and generates (and deletes) instances of “public” maps as needed. (Mostly social hubs, like Starfleet Academy or Deep Space Nine.) There is a feature to switch to another copy of the same instance if it isn’t full. But that option is kind of hidden and not really convenient to access. And if you leave the current instance (such as to do a mission) then the system will go right back to sticking you in the first convenient copy, which might not be the one you were in before.

Warframe does something similar, but presents the option to pick which social area instance. For that one, I usually pick one of the empty copies.

When I played more “traditional” MMOs, my preference was to pick one of the RP servers, and then aim for the least populated one. I don’t actually RP, but my theory was that if most other people did then I’d run into names like “xX_Legolas_Xx” a lot less often. That theory turned out to be badly flawed, because there are apparently people who HATE RP who picked the RP servers and then went out of their way to make sure every single person there knew how stupid and pointless they thought the whole idea was. So… yay.